The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Edgewood College co-hosted the 29th annual Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference at the Monona Terrace over the weekend.
The MBLGTACC, founded in the early 1990s, is the largest conference for queer and trans+ college students in the United States. The student-run conference runs for three days and features a variety of speakers and workshops to empower and educate students from across the nation.
The theme for this year’s conference was “From Protest and Beyond Pride.” Students from UW-Madison’s LGBTQ+ social organization Pride Society decided on this theme to commemorate Wisconsin's activist history, and highlight the queer history of the state.
“The theme’s connection to the lives of LGBTQ+ people embraces the vibrant experiences of Pride festivals across the country and the movement,” MBLGTACC said in a statement. “In ‘From Protest and Beyond Pride,’ we center our collective gaze on the future of the movement, our goal: recognize we are not in a moment but in a wave of momentum.”
The keynote speakers for this year’s conference were Mia Mingus, a writer, educator and trainer for transformative and disability justice, and M. Adams, a community organizer and co-executive director of Freedom Inc.
ASM Chair Adrian Lampron found the keynote speakers to be the most impactful part of the conference.
“Both of them talked about intersectional work and how we can work towards queer liberation and disability and racial justice and other intersecting issues that I care so much about,” Lampron said. “They gave me a lot of hope because both of the keynotes are adult professionals doing liberation work. It’s really hard being a young person and activist, but seeing people who are older than you doing their own work and enjoying themselves is very inspiring to me. It makes everything seem worth it.”
Lampron facilitated a workshop on gender inclusive housing at UW-Madison. They also attended a gender inclusive bathroom workshop and a presentation called “From Beijing to Madison'' about international LGBTQ+ rights.
“‘Beijing to Madison’ was my favorite event because it was super interesting to hear about how LGBTQ+ rights are advocated and perceived in different places,” they said. “There are so many different atmospheres and environments for LGBTQ+ folks and different climates for activism.”
Other sessions at the conference featured Trans Law Help Wisconsin, a pro bono project that provides resources to transgender and nonbinary individuals, Curly Velazquez, an actor and content creator and Broderick Pearson and Angel Vega, organizers for “March with Pride for #BlackLivesMatter.” Other artists and creators facilitated workshops and discussions about Madison’s queer multi-genre festival, body reclamation and centering identity around one’s own work.
The conference was also hybrid this year due to COVID-19, providing in-person and virtual events.
“I was really thankful that the conference was hybrid. It was fun to be in-person, but that has excluded a lot of people and restricted accessibility to events for a variety of folks,” said Lampron. “It was inspiring for me to see how I can work harder at ASM and make inclusive events and not just assume that the people who show up are the only people interested in attending.
UW-Madison was selected from a competitive pool to co-host the conference. This year was the fourth time MBLGTACC was held in Wisconsin and the third time the conference visited Madison.